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'Almost, Maine' is perfectly enchanting at The Dio Theatre

The four member cast of "Almost, Maine"  -- Matt Berdahl, Ann Dilworth, Justin Dietzel, and Vanessa Sawson -- sparkle as they portray 19 different characters in this small, magical town.
The four member cast of "Almost, Maine" -- Matt Berdahl, Ann Dilworth, Justin Dietzel, and Vanessa Sawson -- sparkle as they portray 19 different characters in this small, magical town.
Jan Cartwright Photography and Communications

Almost, Maine at the Dio Theatre


Last night we made our first visit to the Dio Theatre – a dining and entertainment experience in Pinkney that is staging a charming production of “Almost, Maine.”

One of the things that makes “Almost, Maine” so popular is that it promotes social interaction – by giving one so much to chew on and talk about. It’s a great play for a girls’ night out, for a first date, and for relationships of almost any duration.

The play by John Cariani is is set in the slightly magical world of Almost, Maine. Not quite a town, not quite in Canada, not quite real. But almost. And it is almost a contiguous story, except that it is really comprised of nine short plays about people falling in love, falling out of love or just plain falling apart. Instead of a Shakespearean banquet, we get a tapas approach to theatre, and it’s delicious. For every “awwwww” moment of sweetness, there’s an “oh no” jab of dry disappointment paired with the savory sauce of despair. But it’s all in good taste. Best of all, these tasty morsels are served up by four hard-working actors playing 19 different characters, and it is especially fun to watch them jump from role to role.

This enchanting Dio Theatre production, directed by Steve DeBruyne, features the talents of Matt Berdahl, Justin Dietzel, Ann Dilworth and Vanessa Sawson – each of whom clearly enjoys the multiple-personality exploits this show demands. This is a true actors’ script, in that each is given poignant, gem-in-the-spotlight moments to shine. And this cast sparkles.

We meet a woman with a broken heart, who finds just the right repairman. We discover that destiny can be written in a misspelled tattoo, that there's no healing without hurting, and that married people may simply be waiting for the other shoe to drop. In the end, we are left with the notion that sitting side-by-side with someone is both as close and as far away from another person as we can ever be, so we'd best seize the moment.

Director Steve DeBruyne is supported by a creative team that understands the magic it must create: Set, lighting and sound design and stage management is by Matthew Tomich, with scenic help by Norma and Rachel Polk. Costume design is by Marilee Dechart, props by Eileen Obradovich, with hair and makeup by Katy Vore. Dinner is courtesy of Chef Jarod.

“Almost, Maine” is ideally suited to Dio’s dinner and entertainment formula and worth every inch of the drive you may have to make to see it. Since one ticket covers your meal and the show, it eliminates the rush of getting in and out of a restaurant before curtain time. Take a leisurely drive to Pinckney (most of the traffic is heading the other way), park the car, and you’re set for the evening. Dinner is served buffet style, and the hard-working cast members serve drinks and dessert. (Don’t forget to tip your server!)

You can catch “Almost, Maine” at The Dio, 135 E. Main St., in Pinckney through March 2, 2014. There are evening meals and performances Thursday through Saturday (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) plus a Sunday matinee (doors open at 12:30). There will be an additional weekday matinee on Thursday, February 27. All tickets include The Dio’s dinner buffet, a non-alcoholic beverage, dessert, and the show. Prices are $39 for Adults, with student and seniors tickets offered at $35 and children 13 and under $32. Group tickets are also available for $32. Tickets for all performances may be purchased by visiting the theatre website or by calling the box office at (517) 672-6009.

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